How often do you envision the voice behind an animated character? I mean, really, Seth MacFarlane can't play everyone.
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A few years ago, CEO of Gearbox Software, Randy Pitchford, asked one of his co-workers for a somewhat unusual favor: Be the voice for a video game robot. David Eddings, Gearbox Software's VP of business development and licensing was happy to oblige, but he had no idea just how popular that character would become.
At the time, Gearbox was hard at work on Borderlands, its original title that would attempt to blend shooter and RPG elements in a post-apocalyptic space western setting. The company was looking for a voice for a sidekick character, a little robot with one wheel who would help players along their way. They named him Claptrap.
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"When they were creating a character that was going to be a sidekick, they wanted make someone needy, slightly irritating and endearing. So it was typecasting," laughed Eddings. "Sometimes I can be over the top a little bit, so Randy asked me if I could do something like this."
Eddings may have a business background (he used the term "paper pusher" to describe himself), but he had experience with voice work. He first started doing voices on radio 17 years ago, then began helping with game projects for GodGames, where he also worked.
"I borrowed heavily from Mel Blanc, one of my favorite voice actors of all time," said Eddings. "If you listen, you can hear some Bugs Bunny. You can also hear kind of Curly Howard, from the Three Stooges. It also borrowed a little bit from Johnny Cab from Total Recall. It was just about having fun."
They found the voice matched perfectly with the one-wheeled robot created by designer Warren Wood, who Eddings said dreamed up the original sketches when he was in college. As anticipation for the title grew, thanks in part to Gearbox's promotional videos, interest in the foul-mouthed, unpredictable robot grew.
Claptrap soon had his own videos, in which he berated "cast" and "crew" of Borderlands (the videos were treated as if the game was a movie set). He was soon pulled in to participate in even more special projects. A company that prides itself on fan interaction, Gearbox agreed to a use Claptrap in a video that helped a fan with his marriage proposal. Claptrap is also featured heavily in promotions for Borderlands 2, one of the most anticipated games of the summer.
Eddings described Claptrap's popularity as a "total surprise," but said he doesn't want to hog any spotlight.
"The developers are the people who really deserve the credit," he says. "I probably spent about 16-20 hours in the studio creating Claptrap, but there are people who spend 16 hours a day on the game. In our community day, I’m happy to do the voice, or sign stuff, but it feels like unearned adoration."
Eddings said getting to do things like Claptrap's voice are part of what makes working at Gearbox so rewarding. "My day job is to do biz dev and licensing, so the fact I even get to do Claptrap and contribute creatively to the process is awesome, but it’s such a small, small part," he said.
Check out the video below to see some of Claptrap's hilarious antics captured on YouTube. Borderlands 2 will be out for XBox 360, PC and PlayStation 3 on Sept. 18.
This story originally published on Mashable here.